Merv Griffin passes at age 82

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Billionaire and television producer Merv Griffin died Sunday from complications relating to prostate cancer, reports Reuters. Griffin had successfully battled cancer before in 1996, but it was found again this past July. Griffin was 82.

The entertainer made his mark on Hollywood both in front of and behind the camera. His company Merv Griffin Enterprises created several game shows, including the extremely popular Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune. Griffin also hosted his own old-school talk show, The Merv Griffin Show, during the early 1960s through the late 1970s.

Griffin was also musically inclined. He often sang on his show, and had a number-one hit with "I've Got a Lovely Bunch of Coconuts." He's also responsible for the catchy Jeopardy! theme song, which took him less than an hour to write and has banked him tens of millions of dollars in royalties, according to Reuters.

After selling Merv Griffin Enterprises in the mid-1980s, Griffin found more fortune in the real-estate business, buying various islands, hotels, and casinos.

Pat Sajak, host of Wheel of Fortune, relayed his thoughts on Griffin's passing on his Web site. "The solar system of which he was the center was filled with bright stars who seemed to gravitate toward him," Sajak wrote. "Whether on a TV show or in a living room, no one could make you feel more alive than Merv Griffin. His life was a celebration, and those of us who participated in it can't help but feel blessed."

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